Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Immigration reform

Amazingly, there are signs that Congress is making progress in forging immigration reform. Republicans are backing off their demands for high fines and long waits to achieve legal status, while Democrats are accepting that immigrants must return to their home country to apply, and the existence of “triggers” before the law would take effect.

I have a hard time taking the “trigger” concept seriously. It will likely just become political cover, an artificial way for everyone to clap and say we’ve secured the border. Enforcement and reform have to go together—there’s magical way to enforce laws as long as the laws are utterly foolish. So at what point do we suddenly claim that we’ve achieved “secure borders” and “workplace compliance” so that we can move forward with new laws?

Regardless, the negotiation itself is good news. The senate may have a bill within a few days, then a vote in May. In a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, 78% favored giving everyone a chance for legalization. The problem, of course, is that the minority is very vocal.


MMG 2:51 PM  

The problem is to get policy to reflect public opinion. Some pre-candidates are starting to establish positions on this issue. Maybe that will encourage legislators to discuss immigration reform.

Greg Weeks 3:21 PM  

Maybe, but I have a hunch that Republicans at least want to cater to what they believe is a highly restrictionist base (the degree to which it is restrictionist is up for debate). So they are not interested (yet) in what the "general public" thinks about the issue.

And welcome to the blogosphere--we can always use more political scientists interested in immigration.

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